'The Big Piece' Ryan Howard is officially retiring. The former Philadelphia Phillies firstbaseman announced his retirement in a letter written on The Players' Tribune labeled "Thank you, Philly." Howard wrote, "I'm officially announcing my retirement from the game of baseball. It's almost like I blinked, you know? It's almost like I blinked - and suddenly, September 2004 ... it became September 2018," Howard also added some insight into what was going through his mind 14 years ago when he started, "I'd been hearing for years about how famous the fans in Philly were for being hard on their own players. And about how, if I didn't meet expectations, and meet them quickly, well, those fans - they were going to let me hear about it. It was basically the same advice from everyone, over and over: Philadelphia's tough. And if you want to survive there? You have to get tough, too….So when I'd hear that Philadelphia was 'hard on its players,' it's funny - I'd just be like, Alright, well, that's my kind of town. I related to that…And I saw Philly as having that hunger to win - same as mine."
Ryan Howard made his MLB debut in 2004 and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 followed by the NL Most Valuable Player Award the next year in 2006. A member of the 50 Homerun club and Silver Slugger Award winner, he is a three-time NL All-Star (2006, 2009, 2010), and the NL Championship Series MVP Award in 2009.